Working to get herto empower mothers in ourcommunity
“During the course of working with SADAG on the Mental Health and Gender Initiative, Mums Support Network has been able to identify the shortcomings of maternal mental health identification and treatment in our area, and to learn what we can do realistically in our capacity as a small NPO to contribute to positively improving this situation.”
Mums Support Network has been working with SADAG KZN for about 4 years since its inception as a provincial branch of SADAG. We were approached by SADAG KZN to collaborate with them on the WVL project with the aim of improving mental health awareness and access to support for mothers in our local communities.
This challenge has been immensely rewarding for us, as we have been given the opportunity to expand our reach to more mothers in need. It has enabled us to focus on what is missing in terms of mental health support in our area and in which meaningful ways we can help.
Mums Support Network is a Durban-based NPO which aims to provide emotional support and encouragement to mothers and mothers-to-be, and to raise awareness of maternal mental health issues. Our main focus is perinatal distress, however the journey of motherhood in general is a complicated one, so we cover a broad range of topics related to the challenges of motherhood in the 21st century. We have support groups (both in-person and online) and WhatsApp chat groups for mums to find support. We also advocate for better maternal mental health awareness in the community by giving regular educational talks.
During the course of working with SADAG on the Mental Health and Gender Initiative, Mums Support Network has been able to identify the shortcomings of maternal mental health identification and treatment in our area, and to learn what we can do realistically in our capacity as a small NPO to contribute to positively improving this situation.
We have learned through SADAG and the experts involved on this wider project that there is a need to reach and educate families within our more indigent communities, and to go right back to basics when discussing the maintenance and treatment of mental health.
Through the MHaG initiatives which we ran last year however, it also became clear to us that an enormous amount of healing can take place simply by getting women to come together in a safe and non-judgemental space, and these types of events do not have to be overly complicated. As a small NPO we have learned that we can still accomplish a lot with only a little!
Through our collaboration with SADAG and WVL we have gained a good amount of insight into what attracts a community to an event, what works and doesn’t work at such events, and the value in simply hosting more of them. It has been a challenge to find the ideal accessible venues, and to get women to attend such events in the first place.
The impact on our community so far is that more women are aware that there is a group who can help them navigate their mental health journey, and that they are far from alone in what they are experiencing. The more these topics are discussed within a community, the more the stigma can be reduced.